It’s been nearly six months since the Shoulder To Lean On Project rose from my imagination into reality.
Less than a year ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you would have even suggested that I would eventually be the creator of a project that has touched so many lives. Even when the Shoulder To Lean On Project was in its toddler “years,” I didn’t expect it to be so well-received in the community as it was. I had prepared myself for at least some kind of failure and while I worked around it, I never thought that I would rise above it.
Fast forward to today and I am thankful. God, am I thankful. I’m thankful for my wonderful project advisors, especially Ms. Lisa Sherman at WellStar. I’m thankful for the people who have praised me for the hard work I’ve been doing, and all of the people who have encouraged me to keep my head up. I’m thankful for those first few caring souls that were willing to listen to my stammering speeches in the beginning—thanks to them, I’ve developed into the charismatic and comfortable public speaker I am today. I’m thankful for every beautiful soul I’ve come across during this wonderful journey. Most importantly, I am thankful for my mom, who pushed me out of my comfort zone and drilled this project into me until I breathed a love for oncology. Without any of these wonderful people, or you, I would never have reached success.
I’ve grown so much since June eighteenth of 2016. It’s hard to believe that I am the same human that I was during my interview for my Gold Award project. My project was still barely taking its baby steps and I was fumbling, nervous. They told me that they weren’t sure if my project would make a difference and I accepted that, too doubtful of myself to say otherwise. I was a mediocre public speaker at best back then. My first speech was in front of seven Girl Scout leaders that I knew relatively well and I could barely spit out a sentence without stammering at least twice. When I had to present in front of the directors of oncology at WellStar Health Systems, I was fairly certain I was going to pass out. I was clueless in every sense. I didn’t know how I was going to make an impact with my project.
Presenting at WellStar Hospital.
Over time, however, all of that changed. I started speaking to everyone that I could about my project. I pushed through my stage fright. At my biggest presentation, I spoke to nearly one thousand people in one night—impromptu. I researched, too; oh, Lord, did I research. I learned so much about oncology that I felt like I might as well be a medical student. I started to interact with the cancer community around me and realized that not only was my project needed, but my life service, too. Oncology beckoned to me like a lantern in a gloomy tunnel and I followed it, mesmerized by its medical terminology and life-saving knowledge. While I may have been resentful of trading my summer for the STLO project, that resentment was short-lived.
I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award in September 2016. My GS committee member, the one who had, along with my mother, pushed me nonstop towards success over the course of the summer, was remarkably proud of me. I was proud of myself, too. For once in my life, I finally felt like I had done something good for the world, and I was grateful to all of the people who led me there.
With Lisa Sherman, my main project advisor.
The Shoulder To Lean On Project isn’t over for me, not even close. I’ll continue working on this project well into the foreseeable future. With the help of WellStar Health Systems and other wonderful organizations, the Shoulder to Lean On Project will live on forever. Additionally, it will live on in my vocational life: I plan to one day attend medical school and become an oncologist. This project may have served an unmet need in the cancer community, but it isn’t my last good deed for cancer patients. It’s my goal to one day contribute to the curing of cancer across the globe.
This project has opened so many doors for me, and for that I am grateful. It’s changed my life forever. In a couple of years, some of my extra-curriculars may be lost or even forgotten, but the Shoulder To Lean On Project will live on forever in my heart.
Thank you to all who have supported me over the course of these past couple months.